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The Lands of the Demon King (Chapter 1)

Morathor

Supernova
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
Location
Midwestern USA
It's hard to tell how far you've traveled. You might say you've been walking for days, except that you haven't seen a hint of daylight the entire time. Sometimes the sky is lighter than others, waxing and waning from early dusk to deepest midnight. And there is no judging your distance by the terrain--it's been dense forest the entire time, thickly shrouded by a perpetual mist so you can't even make out any landmarks to guide your way. You might have been wandering in circles all this time.

But you haven't dared to stop and make camp. The sounds that echo from the mists--the snarling of beasts, the cackling of something far more sinister--tell you it is not safe. Even if nothing attacked you while you slept, you might succumb to the cold. Even at "dusk" you can see your breath, another wisp of fog among the rolling mists. The darkest parts of the night are dangerously frigid, and everything is too damp to keep a fire going for long.

But perhaps that's no cause for concern, because ever since you've arrived in this land, your body has burned with feverish heat, despite your chilly surroundings. If this heat has a source, it is a single spot of your flesh, hotter than any other--not quite hot enough to be painful, but too hot to ever really put it out of your mind. Even if you were to find a safe place, it's very possible you would be kept awake by the persistent heat of this strange brand.

For Elise, the center of the heat lies between your shoulder blades. You can't see it, of course, but you can feel it on your skin. When you reach back to touch it, some of the fur growing from that area feels coarse and dry compared to the fur around it.

For Illyanna--or rather, Pim, as the mark persists in your skin no matter how you change your form--the center of the heat resides on your rear, just above your right thigh. Although you haven't been able to get a look at it, the texture of it on your skin and its position on your flank reminds you uncomfortably of a brand.

Sir Paega, only you have been able to look at the mark in your skin--though it has been a bit awkward to do so, between removing your plate armor and finding an angle where you can see past the unfamiliar curvature of your chest. But eventually, you have been able to see a strange black mark emblazoned on your flesh, surrounding your navel:

Demon King-Crest 1.png

After an untold time wandering through the woods, you have been surprised to find the treeline give way quite suddenly to a clearing, and more shockingly, to a town. It is small town full of cramped buildings, most of which are single story and can't possibly have more than two rooms. The people seem destitute. Their clothes simple and threadbare, their bodies gaunt and malnourished, and their eyes dull with weariness or misery. Many of them bear a black mark somewhere on their body--the same mark that defaces Paega's flesh. All eyes are you on as you make your way towards the center of town, looking for some sort of inn where you might rest your head for a time. Some are watching you distrustfully, while others give you looks of pity, and others still gaze at you with shameless desire. You are certainly a striking beauty amidst these miserable husks of humanity.

And yet, it seems you are not the only vision of loveliness to have been bestowed on this town, for as you approach the largest building in town, hoping against hope that there is some sort of lodging to be found there, you find yourself face to face with two other striking young women, reaching the same building at the same time, and seemingly with the same intention. Whether by chance or by fate, Paega, Elise, and Illyanna, you have found yourselves together in this sad, desolate town.
 

Motoharu

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Illyanna strutted into town wearing her very revealing mage outfit and surrounded by will o wisps, brimming with confidence. A false confidence. In truth, Illyanna was absolutely terrified. She had heard rumors of the horrors that awaited in the forest, and her journey had already confirmed they were not lies; the very air exuded evil. But she had little choice but to continue. As long as she was bound to the mysterious Fey Lord, she had to follow his will.

Even after working for him for an entire year, she learned little about him. She had no idea what his goals were, and even what his name was. Illyanna had one goal, as she journeyed through the forest, to find a power strong enough to break the bond placed on her, and let her live the life she chose. She would do whatever it would take to gain her freedom.

Illyana knew her illusions were strong, but they were a false strength. With the aid of another, she could trick her enemies, and get through most conflicts, but by herself she was well. She needed powerful allies. In the past, she had used her beauty, illusions, and body to persuade powerful men to fight for her. She always hated doing it, but at least she was selling herself for her own benefit, and not Someone else’s.

As she strutted through town she looked around for potential allies. Everyone looked weak and powerless, which concerned her deeply. Would she look similar after spending time in the area? Finally she found two strong looking individuals: A mighty knight in armor and a lithe cat girl. Illyana seemed in luck; there were two potential allies that she might not have to sleep with to gain their favor.

Illyana gives a Curtsy to the strangers and spoke in an airy voice, “I am Illyana, a wandering mage.” As she said so she summoned what looked to be a small fireball in her hand, though it was in fact a simple illusion. “I have just arrived in this town and am in search for some strong companions. Are you both new to this land as well?”
 

Davian_Veq

Star
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
Elise finally walked into the town. Her fur was matted, and her leather armour and straps were messy and torn. Her steps were slow and hesitant, the Feline's eyes darting between the townsfolk. Even as she was, her body was modestly curved, leather plates and straps covering the bare minimum for modesty. A belt full of knives and tools hung from her waist, and even her prized panpipes had not escaped unscathed.

The Feline's flight and wandering through the forest had left her the worst for wear, and she limped onward through the village towards the larger buildings towards the centre. She was certainly not used to this small remnant of civilisation, let alone the wilds she had escaped from. Her home were cities and palaces - where she could peddle her trade, work as a spy or diplomat, entertain parties - not this squalor of mud and what few crops survived.

A few more steps into the town and her eyes fell on those better off than the tunic-clad peasants around her. Her eyes go straight to the mage woman, and her keen senses get to work. As she thinks, her mouth opens to run automatically...

"Ehhh, what a trek! I've never been much of a one for forests, I guess. Give me a band of goblins to fight, or a party to infiltrate, great, but this survival stuff is really not my thing."
Elise's hand moved from her back to her side, prodding at a makeshift dressing for a shallow graze.
 

ChrisGabriel

Supernova
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Wandering in the nothing alone, sick, bodyburning up, knowing that even if theywon, it came with a great price. Sir Paega didn't cared or wandered for his ownsake, he was looking for the brave men, who followed him to the caves of chaos, confronting the demon worshipper cult. He remembered killing their high wizard, and how his blood awakened the figure put together from the bodyes of their captives... Sir Paega personally ended that monster's unlife, but could only remember the huge wave of flesh burying him. He clawed his way free, trembling, his body hot and uncomfortable. Wandering around he could only find the vaning trails of his fellow men... Then justas he lost the cave and seemingly the whole world outside, he noticed the changes.

It took a careful rest and some hard time removing his armor, just to scream like a banshee, as his body had changed female, with hisvoice... He was like he had been born a girl! Some time later he noticed the mark of the evil. Tried to cut and burn it away, only his ability to heal saving his ... her life. Somehow calming down after realising she was still the 'man' he grew up to be, even if he now looked at least ten year younger and female. She was able to wear his armor, and lift his weapons, so after praying she climbed to her feet and tried to find her way out of the mist.

Sick and hungry, Sir Paega finally arrived to what seemed to be some trees, then following the lights and scent of burning firewood to the village. She looked at them, and they looked at her. It was an unwanted, chilling sensation, so Sir Paega kept walking towards thecenter, looking for the leader of these people, or at least an inn. She was sure thatshe would get a roomand some food, and maybe givendirections. It should be like that, after all, over her chainmail she wore the tabard of the King's Men, slashed by the colors of the clergy, something that only the Paladins of the Order could wear without inpunity.

Of course she was now a female. But Sir Paega tried to hide it as much as possible, having her hair croppedbydagger, face and hands just as dirty as his armor after countless days in nothingness. She was smelly, and obviously had a sword, the chain mail hiding her whole body, and not only the tabard over it, but the undershirt and belt holding down her mounds of flesh.

Seeing the two 'beauties', Sir Paega snapped to attention with her sword in her hand, when one easily said she is a witch, and the other some kind of catlike monster!

"Where am I, why did you bring me here?" she asked, trying to keep her voice more manly. "And where is my men?!"
 

Motoharu

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Illyana studied the Feline carefully. Despite being her being weakened by the journey, she could tell that she muscular and a capable fighter. Illyana was about to respond to her comment, but after the knight yelled and pulled out his sword, she took a step back. Something was odd about the knight’s frame, but even so, Illyana knew she’d be unable to take him in a fair fight.

Illyana made an illusion of herself where she stood, while she simultaneously turned invisible, and took a few more steps back to create some distance in case the knight attacked without warning. “Apologies Sir knight,” Illyana said in a humble tone, “I was not the one that brought you here, and I do not know what men you are talking about. I am simply a humble traveler in this cursed forest, looking for shelter and allies. I would be happy to help you look for your men, if you would like?”
 
OP
Morathor

Morathor

Supernova
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
Location
Midwestern USA
As Paega draws his weapon, a few of the locals approach the heated conversation--two men and a woman. They are among those who have been ogling the newcomers with undisguised lust, and though they try to project an air of sympathy and good will, their terrible performances serve only to drive in how alien those concepts are to them.

The first to speak looks to be the youngest; if the near-empty jug in his hand were not sufficient evidence of his intoxication, the slurring of his confused words surely is. "You ladiiies... looking for men?" He grins as suggestively as he can manage with his yellowed teeth.

"This bloke bothering you girls?" asks the woman as she eyes Paega. "Would you rather bother me, pretty boy?"

"Don't pay no mind to this blowhard, girls,"
says the older man. "He's just as lost as you are. You're new here? Need someone to show you the lay of the land? We'll give you a hand."

"We're... nnn... neighborly sorts, like that,"
says the younger man.
 

ChrisGabriel

Supernova
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Not caring what the commoners was trying to say for now, Sir Paega was first interested in the witch's words, as it seemed the feline was not acting like a monster. Still, she would not let her out of the corner of her eyes, as she was sure up to noo good. Still, she asked ... it. Better not to see her as a female at all. "Allies for what?"

Then as an afterthought, Sir Paega replied to the cat person and the commoners too. "I seem to be missing the king's men who was with me when we purged the land from the demon worshippers and finally destroyed its summoned essence... But this area is not known to me, neither are these people, we still speak the same language!"
 

Davian_Veq

Star
Joined
Dec 24, 2016
The feline's eyes narrowed, looking around the townsfolk. She took an instinctive step backwards, and muttered under her breath.
"Oh great, is everyone here an absolute creep..."

Her gaze continued, and she looked over the new arrivals instead. They, at least, seemed capable and strong instead of these... others.
One of her hands moved to rest on one of the daggers at her hip, and her other hand waved and moved as she looked around to draw attention away from it.
 

Motoharu

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
As the three locals approached, Illyana could tell they did not have any good intent. Even if this knight had a sword pointed at her, she could tell that he was less likely to attack, unprovoked than the locals. Glancing at the feline, she guessed that she felt similarly.

Illyana had her illusion gesture at the locals. “Allies for survival, my good knight,” Illyana said in a more serious, tone. “Please observe the locals here. I mean you no harm, but do you believe these three feel the same way? I might be strong enough to fight them off myself, but I’d rather not risk it. I also sense a much larger evil in the area. Together, the three of us will be much stronger, and if you do not survive the day, you will never find your companions.”

Illyana’s illusion turned her head towards the feline and asked, “Ms. Feline, are you with me?”
 
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ChrisGabriel

Supernova
Joined
Oct 27, 2010
Putting away her sword, Sir Paega nodded as she came to a decision. Then turning to the old man - still keeping watch towards the witch and the cat - she said in a deep, loud whisper as manly as she was able to. "Give us your words, old man, any hand getting too close will be lobbed off. Speak, tell us all about this land and the peole on it, who is your lord, and the name for your God?"
 
OP
Morathor

Morathor

Supernova
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
Location
Midwestern USA
"Our god?"

The younger man sniggers, until a hiccup cuts him off. This prompts him to speak. "No gods here..."

"These are the lands of Lord Astheriel,"
says the woman, "where gods fear to tread." The name she speaks is known to both Paega and Illyana, a powerful demon king. One has sworn to destroy him; the other has been charged with seeking his domain.

"We have our ways, and you'll learn them in time." The older man sounds almost hungry as the words fall like grease from his lips. "But the one you will learn first is this: by our King's decree, you must present yourselves before his representatives. If they see fit, you may be invited to the court of someone higher up."

"Pretty faces like yers, I bet you'll... catch a General's eye..."
The drunken youth attempts to sling his arm around Illyana's shoulder; as his arm slips through the image, he seems more frustrated than confused. "Hey, don't be like that... all... unfriendly..."
 
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